1. What is a “Merchant Account?”

A merchant account allows a business to accept electronic payment for services or products, via their customers’ Credit cards (Visa/MC/Discover/American Express/JCB/Diners), Debit cards (Visa/Solo/Electron/Delta/Maestro), Gift Cards, or Checking accounts (ACH/eCheck/Demand Draft).

2. Why is pricing for your merchant account services not listed on your website?

We work with 25+ banks worldwide, and pricing varies widely by country and between business models. For an accurate quote on our services, please complete the short & no obligation pre-application and one of our account managers will contact you within 24 business hours.

3. What should I look for in a merchant account?

There is an old saying: “You get what you pay for.” When a prospective merchant first starts looking for a merchant account, they may be intrigued by finding the lowest rates possible. However, as with most things in business, it’s the customer service and merchant support that in the end can be the difference in a successful relationship. We don’t give away a T-shirt and a plane ticket to Hawaii for signing up with us; however we take pride in that you can actually call and talk with us in person if you have a question or problem that needs resolved. There are processors that sign up dozens of ecommerce merchants a day, and for many this works fine. If you are looking for a more personalized and reliable service though, we’d be glad to talk with you about your business needs.
There is another old saying: “There is no free lunch.” Nothing in business is free….You should realize that there are real costs involved in the discount rates, transaction fees, and terminals. If a broker is offering you rates well below the average industry, we guarantee there is a catch somewhere. Also, a prospective merchant should take some time to step back from the “lowest rate game:” the difference between 2.35% and 2.45% is $10/month *if* you are processing $10,000/month. Is $10/month a reasonable cost to incur to pay for responsive merchant support? Many merchants don’t realize until it’s too late in the process, but a merchant account is a relationship with that bank and its risk managers, and this relationship is one of the most important aspects of your business. With processors that charge the lowest rates, there isn’t enough “incentive” for them to take the time to assist your business, and its all too easy to end up on the TMF list, or encounter problems with fraudulent orders, or have to settle for sub-par merchant support. top

4. What are the 3 main components of an online merchant account?

1. Your website/shopping cart: Your website hosts your products & service descriptions and pricing. You may or may not have a “shopping cart” to organize your products. We offer our own free shopping cart with our gateway, or we can integrate into may other shopping carts on the market.
2. Gateway: Your website/shopping cart will send transactions to the gateway. (TRY LOGGING INTO OUR GATEWAY WITH OUR DEMO ACCESS). We also support most all other major gateways on the market. Please note the gateway company usually charges a monthly fee seperate from the processor.
3. Processor: The gateway will send the transactions to the processor. You are applying with us for the processor or “merchant account.” top

5. How do credit card transactions work?

Your shopping cart will collect the customer’s credit card and billing information. The shopping cart will pass this information to the gateway. The gateway is tested to be PCI COMPLIANT (meaning: secure), so it is qualified to send transactions to the processor. The gateway queries the processor, to see if the customers billing info is A) correct and B) if the amount of money you are trying to process is available. If both answers come back YES, the gateway will deliver back to your website an APPROVAL. The funds are then collected by Visa/MC (etc) from the customers “card issuing” bank (such as MBNA, Capital One, Bank of America, etc), and routed back to your processor. The processor will deduct their fees, and then “direct deposit” the remainder of the money into your checking account.

6. Why is there “underwriting” on a merchant account?

Underwriting is performed on every merchant account application. The processor will pull and review your personal credit, and review your business model (and also check the TMF list). The reason for this is that there is a risk involved on every merchant account. Every transaction that the bank allows a merchant to process is essentially a 6 month loan to the merchant.
Since a customer has 6 months to issue a “chargeback” on any credit card transaction, every transaction the bank allows a merchant to process is a “signature loan” or “provisional credit” to the merchant for 6 months. A prospective merchant should realize that a processor offering merchant accounts is doing so as an investment vehicle, and on all investments there are risks. The ultimate risk here is that a merchant will process, let’s say $20,000/month, for 3 months, and then go out of business, unable to fulfill their services/products promised. Since customers have 6 months to issue a chargeback, a right granted to them by their credit card, the bank can expect to see most of these transactions come back as chargebacks. While it is true, that most processors require a “personal guaranty” and will attempt to pursue you to collect any losses, it is the processor that is ultimately responsible to Visa/MC/AmEx/Discover for repaying these transactions.
True, this is a “worst case” scenario, however it happens more often that you would expect. However, losses are incurred on a more regular schedule, on merchants that experience even less significant chargeback problems. So, this is why underwriting is involved on a merchant account application, to ensure that the processor is not assuming more risk than is warranted. top

7. Why would my merchant account be considered high risk?

If you read through the previous question, you understand that ALL merchant accounts carry risk. However, there are many types of business models that carry higher levels of risk. This is mainly due to Visa/MC/AmEx/Discover allowing customers 6 months “from the end of the service date” to issue a chargeback on a credit card purchase. Additionally, Visa/MC will ONLY allow merchants to have a 1% chargeback ratio! That means, that in any given month, you are only allowed to have 1 out of 100 sales charged back by a customer!
It is difficult to get a merchant account approved, if you are in an industry that has a HISTORY of high chargebacks. The banks must spend valuable time on defending merchants’ chargebacks, and processing the paperwork, and possibly even assume a financial loss. Many banks don’t feel the reward (the fraction of a %) is worth the risk/time of an account whose industry has traditionally high chargeback ratios. top
So a bank may consider your account high risk for three main reasons:
1. Worst-case scenario of taking a loss on your account.
2. You are in an industry that has a history of high-chargebacks. The bank feels they will spend too much time on your account, and eventually have to turn you off regardless if/when you go over 1% chargebacks.
3. The account has a “reputational” risk, such as the adult industry or pharmacy, etc. Or if you are on the TMF list.

8. What risks am I taking by accepting credit cards?

There are several risks that a merchant takes when accepting credit cards.
1. The customer has 6 months to issue a chargeback on any purchase. Most of the time, you are dealing with legitimate customers. However, there are customers who know how to “abuse” the chargeback system, and attempt to issue a chargeback, even if they received the product/service. We call this “friendly fraud” in the industry, and there are steps we can take to help prevent these chargebacks.
2. Credit card fraud….the possibility of a customer making an order with a stolen credit card is much higher than you would think. We will help train you to prevent these types of fraudulent transactions.
Obviously these are two large risks; however they are offset by the fact that accepting credit cards can usually increase your sales by 50%-400%. We are not trying to scare you, just train you to keep your profit margins safe. top

9. What is a “chargeback?"

A chargeback is when a customer calls their card issuing bank to dispute a transaction. Once the customer calls their card issuing bank (Capital One, MBNA, etc), the dispute is filed with the card association (Visa/MC/Amex/Disc etc), and the money in question is withdrawn from your checking account, and credited back to the customer. The chargeback then gets forwarded to your processing bank, and ultimately to you. You will have 30 days from the dispute start date, to respond to the dispute, and verify that the chargeback claim is invalid. *If* you successfully respond to the dispute and win the chargeback, the funds are credited back to your checking account. The chargeback can go into a 2nd round if the customer still wishes to purse the chargeback.
How you will respond to the chargeback claim will depend on what the “reason” for the chargeback is. Common reasons for chargebacks are: product not received, credit/refund not processed, unauthorized transaction (fraud), and more…in all there are well over 30 chargeback reasons. top

10. How can I protect myself from fraudulent transactions?

This is what we will help train you on. We recommend the following “basic” fraud protection measures:

1. Get a signed receipt for all card-present transactions.
2. Require “CVV” or “CCV” (card code verification) on card-not-present transactions.
3. Require at least partial AVS (address verification system) “match” on card-not-present transactions.
4. Review transactions with a different “ship to” and “bill to” address.
5. Review transactions from outside the US.
6. Watch for transactions that are “too good to be true”…they often are! If it’s the first time a customer has ordered from you, and wants a very large or expensive order over-nighted ASAP, its worth double-checking by confirming the order with the customer.
7. Review transactions that were preceded by several failed transactions, especially if different credit card numbers were used.
8. On Card-Not-Present transactions, especially on higher ticket transactions, require a signed authorization form from your customers. We can provide you a draft form to update with your company information to have your customers return.
Besides these basic fraud protection measures, we also advocate the following:
1. Verified by Visa & MasterCard 3D Secure (VbV and 3DS). Protect yourself from chargebacks for “fraud” reasons. Click here to read more.
2. Fraud Scrubbing: AVS & CCV alone is not fail-proof. Bolster your confidence and bottom-line by preventing fraudulent orders before they occur. Click here to read more. top

11. What documents will I need to open a merchant account?

Normally we will require the following (additional documents will be required in some circumstances):
1. Clear copy of the principal’s drivers license or passport
2. Void business check or bank reference letter to confirm the account for deposits
3. Proof of business: Depending on the business type, we’ll need the DBA registration, business license, or articles of incorporation (sole proprietors do not require any of the above) top

12. What countries can Durango Merchant Services accept merchants from?

We can place merchants from virtually ANY country in the world. The only countries we can’t accept merchants from are countries known for heavy fraud or are hostile to the US.

13. How long will deposits take to get deposited into my checking account?

This depends on what country your business operates from, as we work with banks across the world:
• If a US company, 2-3 business days
• Canadian: 1 week arrears
• UK: 3-5 business days
• EU: 5 business days
• Panama: 5 business days top

14. Why would I apply for a merchant account instead of using Paypal?

A “direct” merchant account enables you to host the entire credit card purchase on your website, meaning your customer never leaves your website. You do not need to request for your money to be deposited with a direct merchant account, as this is automatic. Also, many merchants prefer the more professional appearance of not using Paypal.

15. What is the TMF list or MATCH file?

The TMF (terminated match file) is a list that all acquiring banks (processors) share, that lists merchants who have had a merchant account terminated previously. Getting listed on this file can be a serious problem for a merchant, and can even put the merchant out of business. When you apply for a merchant account, the processor will check the TMF file to see if you are listed, if you are, then you will have a very hard time finding a bank to approve you. The TMF file is essentially a “blacklist” that will prevent you getting approved at any other bank.
You can get put on the TMF file when a previous processor terminates your account, if there was a violation of your merchant agreement. Often this is having excessive chargebacks (more than 1% per volume or more than 1% per transaction count), or it may be for other reasons, such as fraud or collections issues. You should note, that you cannot just change your business name and reapply at a new bank, the TMF file lists *everything* that was on your application with the first bank (name, address, URL, EIN, SS#, DBA, etc).
It is nearly impossible to be removed from the TMF list once you are on it. It is critical to understand your responsibility as a merchant, and the risks you are assuming, when you accept credit cards. Many merchants feel that finding the lowest rates is the most important aspect of a new merchant account….we feel instead that finding a partner that will help you protect your business and minimize your risks is the most important aspect to look for. top